Archive for March, 2003

Change your life – You won’t regret it

Ahoj Everyone.

Well,here I am in Prague with no more travel on the immediate horizon and working away at a vaguely sensible job.

But hey – my life is fun. In fact I really can't remember having so much fun – ever!

Reasons I am happy:

  • I live in the most beautiful city in the world.
  • Every single day is a new adventure
  • I spend my days meeting new people (mostly Czech) and learning about their culture. I get paid for this!
  • The average daily consumption of beer here is 1.5 liters per person (including every man, woman and child). I do my best to help.
  • It is spring.
  • Last weekend a few of us went for a walk in the countryside where we found a Castle that puts Disneyland to shame (picture attached)
  • I have lots of new (and extremely interesting) friends.
  • I live 100m from Prague Castle
  • Within 5 minutes walk from here there are about 15 absolutely beautiful churches of every possible architectural style. Gothic Renaissance, Baroque, Neo Classical, you name it – its nearby. It is very important to get drunk on Saturday night in order to avoid being woken by all the bells on Sunday morning!
  • This is a party city. 5.00 am is an early night on the weekend
  • My life has transitioned from totally idle to utterly hectic – but hey;
  • I don't start work till 10.00 am

I walk around all day smiling and pinching myself to make sure it's all true. The only downside is that I am only making about NZ$ 20,000, but as they say “That's just not important right now”. Actually this is enough to live very comfortably here and I guess that I could even save money if I wanted to (but why bother!)

The Czech people are also incredibly welcoming and I am spending a lot of time in pubs / jazz clubs / winebars with locals that I have met. Lucie for example is brilliant fun and was taught to speak English by someone who explained the importance of using the word “Fucking” and/or “Motherfucker” in every sentence!

I am also now officially a terrorist target. I am working two days a week at Radio Free Europe from which the Voice of America broadcasts directly into Iraq. According to CNN this is the most likely terrorist target in Continental Europe, but the fact that it takes me 30 mins to get through the security checks and into the building which is (literally) surrounded by tanks givens me some reassurance.

So to summarise, I am still alive, I am not bored yet, and I am having a fantastic time!

Nazdar

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I’m Back “home”

Ahoj Everyone.

I am now back in Prague having spent the last month or so travelling through Croatia Bosnia, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary.

I won’t bore you with all the details but I’d like to rave briefly about two particular destinations which warrant special mention:

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Panorama

Until around the turn of the 20th century Dubrovnik was a separate maritime republic – a bit like Venice. Due to attacks by the Turks and an earthquake, most of the town was rebuilt in the 17th Century and since then has remained remained largely untouched within what must be the world’s most spectacular town and harbour walls.

Dubrovnik is a very beautiful and historic place, and is all the more fascinating when you reflect that two thirds of the city was hit by Serb shelling just 10 years ago, although there is now very little evidence of any damage. I have attached a photo which doesn’t really do it justice.

During this phase of the tour I had the unaccustomed privilege of sharing my adventures with a travelling companion who outranks me in terms of the number of beautiful cities visited (ie Florence, Mt Manganui, Rome. Paris, etc) and she too rated Dubrovnik very highly.

So the next time you see those tempting looking adverts in the Travel Agency window for beach holidays in Croatia, don’t hesitate – just go in and say yes! (and make sure at least a day in Dubrovnik is on the itinerary)

 

Sarajevo

Yes, I do realise that going on holiday to a war zone is not necessarily the most sensible strategy. However I was expecting the war in Iraq to get underway while I was there and figured I would actually be much safer in Bosnia than in say London for example.

Anyway, I am very very glad I went as Bosnia (and Sarajevo in particular) offer a very thought provoking and sobering travel experience.

Welcome to Olympic City

I remember many years ago watching the winter Olympics on TV and marvelling at what a beautiful city Sarajevo seemed to be. To my great surprise, it is actually still very beautiful. Yes there is tremendous destruction, bullet holes, land mines and bombed out shells of buildings but there are also some lovely old streets and mosques which survived intact.

Probably more interesting though is the positive attitude of the people who are recovering and moving on from a war that – in reality – is still not really over. The city is dotted with graveyards full to the seams with new (1995 and 1996) graves, and there are very large numbers of heavily armed UN troops still driving around town in tanks. Finding such optimism and beauty in the middle of such deviation was a very positive experience.

Sarajevo is still a few years away from becoming a mainstream tourist destination, but if you get the chance go sooner rather than later, you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway all good things must eventually come to an end so here I am back in Prague with an exciting new job starting on Monday and busy organising things like a permanent address, bank accounts etc. In my absence, the “City of a thousand spires” seems to transformed into the the “City of a million tourists”. Word must be getting out!

I can’t really moan too much though as I am still continually enchanted by this place every time I venture outside.

 

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